How to work with dried chiles
(Special thanks to Miguel Ravago of Fonda San Miguel)
The heat of chiles lies in the membrane of tissue within the shell itself. The seeds absorb some of this heat. You can control the heat to the extent that you remove the membrane and by removing or leaving the seeds.
In his book, Fonda San Miguel, chef Miguel Ravago tells us the best way to handle dried chiles. He advised us that to seed dried chiles, "Use a sharp paring knife to make a slit down the side and carefully scrape out the seeds. To Fry, heat oil to shimmering, fry for 10 to 15 seconds, turning once. Do not burn. Drain on paper towels."
To toast, place on a hot comal or dry skillet for 10 to 15 seconds, turning once or twice. Do not burn." You can rehydrate chiles," Miguel continues, "by soaking them in very hot water for 15 to 20 minutes." click for Fonda San Miguel
Always remember that chiles should be handled carefully: wear rubber gloves and do not rub your eyes or lips.
Bell Pepper - The bell pepper is the most commonly grown pepper in the US. Mexico has a large export business with bells, but doesn't use them as much in their own cooking. We include it here only due to its familiarity.
Cayenne - This is long, thin pointed chile, on average 3 inches long. It is not a Mexican native. Though a native of South America, it has endeared itself around the world. It is fire itself.
Chilaca - A fresh form of the pasilla.
Chiltepin, pequin and Tepin - These are small, wild chiles, very attractive to birds. The word chiltepin may had derived from the Nahuatl combination of chilli and tecpintl which translates to 'flea chile' referring both to its size and its bite. In Puebla, the piquin is called pichichi. There are many varieties growing wild in Mexico and southwestern states in the US. They do well in home gardens. Legend has it that Texans eat them off the bush and use them instead of soap to wash their children's mouth if they use a bad word.
Güero - This is a waxy yellow or yellow-green chile. It is similar in appearance to the jalapeno, but is larger.
Habanero - Watch out for habanero which measures scorchingly high in Scoville units. This is the hottest pepper of all. It is well to adjust the heat by eliminating seeds to taste the unique flavor of this chile, described frequently as 'fruity, sweet, aromatic. KEEP AWAY FROM YOUR EYES when working with habaneros.
Jalapeno - The best known of the chiles and readily available in market, the crisp jalapeno is complex in flavor. It measures 2,500 - 10,00 Scoville units while the habanero measures between 80,00 to 150,000. It is named after the city, Jalapa in Veracruz.
Poblano - A largish chile, 4 to 4 inches long in general. It is dark green with a deep, mellow flavor. This is the most popular chile for stuffing . It is generally roasted and peeled before use. This is a mere 1,000 -1,500 Scoville units.
Serrano - The serrano is the smallest of the fresh chiles, slim, narrow and firm. It can be a substitute for jalapenos, though it is harder to deseed. It is medium green in flavor. It is available canned in vinegar. It measures 10,000 to 25,00 Scoville units. This is fire. Serrano means 'from the mountains' and was first grown in the mountainous regions of northern Puebla and Hidalgo. they are often pickled en escabeche.